Name: Nathalie Rozanes
Current City: Brussels
Occupation: Actress, performer, director, author
What does poetry mean to you?
It’s strange; it is difficult to put words to this. I’ll try. I feel poetry means to me a vacation to a territory beyond the boundaries of language and material meaning we mostly live in. When making poetry it means saying through the filter of an individual body (of experience) and when witnessing it, the relief of feeling a three-dimensional person behind an object. In that sense, poetry means an object that is connected to life and an escape from the dead materiality and flatness I feel we are mostly surrounded by.
I think poetry is also the politics created through the tension between different shapes. So a politics that embraces multiplicity and complexity in its nature. I don’t really think of poetry as necessarily married to the form of the poem or even writing, but I do think of it as connected to some form of musicality and rhythm. I might mean by that, that I think of poetry as something that has a precise movement, a breath, a tension.
What is your favorite poem?
Why do you like this poem?
I read someone a while ago who said that sometimes when you discover a piece of art, it’s as if you had been sitting in a dark room without knowing it and that someone suddenly turned the lights on. That’s exactly what certain encounters felt like to me and the first time that ever happened with a written poem (and I remember it happening) was when I was a teenager. And a strange one. A high school teacher, Mr. Stahl, introduced my English class to e.e. cummings’ poem “l(a.” The poem blew my mind. Even though I was drawing all the time, I had never thought of language visually or in graphics, nor experienced any type of man-produced writing that was open to so many layers of meaning. I remember being moved by its simplicity and at the same time in awe that one person with a pen and a piece of paper had made something so complete. I studied it religiously. The poem was an entity in itself and yet seemed infinite. It rebelled against (linguistic) limitations I thought were needed to make sense and spoke as it wished. I also remember it being a physical sensation. My body resonating with it. I felt like I had discovered a secret language that could express feelings I knew and had no words for. It made me want to write like that. Speak the words I read. Maybe at the time I also just needed to see the word “loneliness” cracked open somewhere. I am not sure if I can still say “l(a” is my favorite poem. Other voices have spoken to me since and been very important. Just like with people, sometimes you cross roads with a piece of art exactly when you need it, without knowing that you did. For example, I had extremely strong and direct sensations studying the first Duino Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke for a performance, or playing Andromaque and Phèdre by Jean Racine, or Cleansed and Crave by Sarah Kane, or listening to people like Ursula Rucker, or seeing the photographs of Francesca Woodman, or watching Elizabeth Ward dance, or a couple of years ago reading the fierce and elegant work of Ariana Reines for the first time was a shock (and I am so excited for her new collection A Sand Book to come out soon), or the beautiful texts of the Belgian/Albanian poet and director Sofie Kokaj who will direct a translation of hers of a play by Richard Foreman in the early summer in Brussels. They are tremendous and infinite territories of freedom and sanity to me, but “l(a” opened that door.
Nathalie Rozanes (b. Zürich 1986) is an actress, director, and writer based in Belgium. As an actress she has performed across Europe for film and stage in projects by directors such as Claudia Bosse, Ziad Doueiri, Lucie Guien, Sofie Kokaj, Claude Schmitz, & Ted Tremper. Currently, she is writing a feature film project called Ushuaia produced by Neon Rouge Production. Her solo performance Francesca, a tribute to photographer Francesca Woodman, which includes translations of fragments of Ariana Reines’ Coeur de Lion and “An hourglass figure: On photographer Francesca Woodman”, premiered at Théâtre National in Brussels in 2016. Her performance March, a duet with dancer Elizabeth Ward with electronic music by Frédéric Altstadt was developed at workspacebrussels and will premier at Campo in Ghent in 2020. Nathalie graduated from INSAS in Brussels in 2011. She has written lyrics for various musicians such as Sanja Maas and Caroline Cohen. She has been published by Soirée Berkson (Vienna) and This Container Magazine (Stockholm).